Introduction: The Question of Method in Philosophy of Education – Claudia Ruitenberg

Somewhat ironically, I enjoyed this article for the very reason I lambasted the past article. This is, again, an essay that harkens to the ideas of prominent modern theorists to buoy its own argument. However, in this article, the emphasis is on reflective thinking to outline our philosophical methodologies. Students “by naming their ways of thinking and writing as philosophical research methods, … made these ways of thinking and writing available for explicit consideration.” (p. 315)

In the past article, I had no intention of deriding the importance and validity of significant historical and modern philosophers and thinkers, rather I cautioned against using them as foundational struts to validate and acclaim our new philosophies.

This article differs from the last because it encourages us to substantiate our methods of thought through reflection on those tendencies themselves. Prominent philosophers have contributed a wealth to the corpus of theory regarding thought, tendencies and methodologies, to ignore their contributions when creating our own, and developing a unique perspective on the nature of consciousness would be a decidedly ‘unlazy’ approach.

Due to the nature of this article as an introduction to a larger text, it is hard to draw any deeper conclusions. However, as a philosophy of approach to research, it does make valuable points.

By critically analyzing our thought processes and viewing how our conclusions are reached, we are able to substantiate our ideas with the greater collective of philosophical work.

I also appreciate Ruitenberg’s method of engaging “in a very deliberate performative speech act that sought to bring about what it seemed to describe.”

Throughout this course I have discussed the connection between teaching and learning, and observed how structures put into place during instruction are reflected again in the learner. Instruction developed from an authoritative text that highlights key information will contribute towards a rote learning environment. Ruitenberg’s performative speech is reflective of this same connection between instructional methodologies and how learning takes place.

Considering our thought process and how we derive our understanding is an essential part of becoming a critical thinker. It is easy to see correlatives of this approach in modern educational theory, and the continued emphasis on reflective practice among both students and teachers (in fact all educationalists).

To paraphrase the blog cited in the past reflection, ( by knowing the ‘shape of the box’ (rather than thinking outside of the box), we can begin to think about how many of the perceived boundaries and limits are real.

This being an article written by and intended for academics, it is only natural that their strong understanding of philosophies of thought would contribute to their inquiries into their own thought.

When considering transplanting such reflective practice into our own, more humble lives, and those of our young students, we can continue with in a similar method to that outlined previously. By understanding our thought, and reflecting on our intentions, we can groom our behaviors to bring our thought and intention closer together. Understanding our reasons, tendencies and habits for thought is the first step in developing a critical reflection and approach to developing our practice. After all, as learning follows from the methodology of instruction, so to do our habits follow from the methods and mechanisms we use to construct our thoughts and understandings.

  • Ruitenberg, C. (2009). Introduction: The question of method in philosophy of education. Journal of Philosophy in Education, 43(3), 315–323. Doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9752.2009.00712.x

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